What does it mean, in practice, to take a privacy-first approach to addressability?
“Privacy is about protecting the relationship with the consumer through the user experience or whatever product or services we offer them – it’s them first,” according to Jana Meron, SVP of programmatic and data strategy at Insider, speaking on stage at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting on Tuesday.
Yes, prodded IAB Tech Lab CEO Anthony Katsur, but how should publishers think about the business risk of not taking a privacy approach?
“He wants me to tell you what a nightmare all this is, because I said it on the prep call,” Meron said, addressing the audience. “He wants me to tell you that we’re all in data privacy hell, everyone’s quitting, systems are breaking and people don’t understand what the rules are – OK, are you happy now?”
That got a hearty chuckle from the audience; it’s also true.
“In all these different divisions – you have people doing data over here and over there – they might not realize there are laws they have to follow, because why would they? They’re in publishing,” Meron said. “And then there are the attorneys who get specially trained, and what happens? They get poached.”
Not to mention having to make sure all of the sites around the world licensing Insider’s content, from France to the Netherlands, implement proper data governance and protection mechanisms.
Similar challenges crop up at News Corp.
Stephanie Layser, News Corp’s VP of data, identity and ad tech products and platforms, is in charge of multiple business units, including Dow Jones under The Wall Street Journal, Realtor.com, the New York Post and assets based in the UK and Australia.
It’s complex. Some business units want to share data with other business units, some don’t, and in some cases we’re talking about cross-border sharing, which is a whole other kettle of fishies.
Third-party vendors that claim to have the answer to this, as well as the cure for any other privacy compliance ill that ails you, will bang on a publisher’s door nearly daily. And, to be fair, News Corp does use “a significant amount of vendors” to help with privacy, Layser said.
But “there’s complexity there that only in-house solutions can help you with,” she said.
“At the end of the day, you’re the one that’s responsible for the consumer’s privacy,” Layser said. “As a publisher, you have to make the right decision for the users coming to your site, and sometimes the decisions you make are hard, because the easy ones can make you a whole hell of a lot more money.”
There are also a lot of tough decisions to make as the market floods with every possible flavor of cookieless solution, running the gamut from probabilistic methodologies to deterministic IDs based on durable identifiers, like an email address.
The problem is, a lot of the solutions out there are “essentially rebuilding the ecosystem we have today,” Layser said.
And that’s just not productive. “It’s very frustrating,” Meron agreed.
But there are novel ideas floating around, including seller-defined audiences, an IAB Tech Lab project to help publishers align on common taxonomies so they can transact on first-party data with anonymized cross-publisher cohorts.
The final proof of concept for seller-defined audiences will be released by the IAB Tech Lab later this quarter.
Some publishers are totally sold on the concept of joining forces to define segments and put them in the bidstream. “That, to me, is a defensible solution in the long term versus some things that rely on an IP address or email address,” Layser said.
Other publishers are a little more skeptical.
“I don’t think any IDs belong on the open web,” Meron said. “The ID belongs where you have to log in.”